ESGR holds first Joint Forces Appreciation Breakfast in Spokane
By Capt. Sandy Smock, 141 ARW, Fairchild AFB
/ Published April 29, 2009
April 24, 2009 -- On April 24, a conference room located in downtown Spokane was filled with over fifty civilian employers who had been nominated by their part-time military employees to be recognized for their strong support of the military while they were called to duty. This was the first ever local Joint Forces Appreciation Breakfast and included representation from the Guard and Reserve Components.
Ken Isaak, Washington State East Area Chairman for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), opened the event with a welcome to representatives for Senator Maria Cantwell and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, along with local elected officials and employers representing various groups of businesses. "ESGR is a Department of Defense Volunteer agency that seeks to promote a culture in which all American employers support and value the military service of their employees. We recognize outstanding support, increase awareness of the law, and resolve conflict through mediation," said Isaak.
Many of these employers have signed a Statement of Support (SOS). This SOS is a way for employers to show their support of the Reserve component forces. It is a means for an employer to say they fully recognize, honor and enforce the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act. It states that they will continually recognize and support our country's service members and their families in peace, in crisis and in war. It is also a way for any employer to show their patriotism.
With over 126,654 Reserve component members on active duty as of January 2009 and 759,618 part-time Reserve members as of Nov 2008 the Reserve component makes up 48% of the total force. The high number of Reservist and Guard activated along with a struggling economy are factors which these employers deal with on a daily basis. "We know that sometimes that this patriotic support is a burden but we thank you deeply for that support," said Isaak.
Commanders from the Spokane area spoke to the crowd and gave updates on deployments and missions while emphasizing their gratitude for such dedication to support their troops. They relayed their understanding of the sacrifices that were made on the employer's part each time a member had to be absent from their civilian job due to fulfilling their military commitments.
During the breakfast the Seven Seals Award, which is presented to recognize an individual or organization that promotes the ESGR mission, was presented to Sandy Kates and her employer. Kates is a member of ESGR and her employer, LCD Exposition Services President, Ken Quimby, and Vice President, Barbara Lockard, were both also honored for their patriotism and support.
A Patriot Award was also presented. This award is based on a nomination submitted by a Guardsman or Reservist. This award went to Teresa Harris, Supervisor of Transcription Health and Information at Holy Family Hospital. Elaine Couture, Holy Family CEO, and the Director of Health Information and Management, Jeanne Carman, were also present. The Patriot Award is given only to supervisors or others at management level. This award is for contributing to National Security and Protecting Liberty and Freedom by supporting employee participation in America's National Guard and Reserve Force.
This appreciation breakfast gave employers the chance to witness support from elected officials, hear from key military leaders, meet with other local employers associated with part-time military employees and most of all to be appreciated for their service and patriotism. ESGR will continue to play an important role in creating successful stories by bringing part-time military service members and their employers together through education, communication and appreciation.